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Author Topic: "The Altar Call"  (Read 1185 times)

Offline The Crusader

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"The Altar Call"
« on: August 08, 2013, 03:02:55 PM »
"The Altar Call"
Not Scriptural And Not So Old

What is often shocking to many who use the modern invitation system is that the altar call is just that modern. The practice, although widespread, is a very new phenomenon in the Christian church. For nearly nineteen centuries no one had ever heard of the practice. Such well known evangelists as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and even John Wesley had never even heard of such a custom. And Charles Spurgeon, that passionate winner of souls par excellence, although well acquainted with the practice, firmly refused to adopt it and even criticized it severely.Ironically, "the old fashioned altar call" was unheard of until the nineteenth century. It first came into being by the influence of Charles Finney, the pioneer of modern evangelistic methods. In Finney's crusades (c. 1830) seats at the front were reserved for those who, after the sermon, would respond to the challenge to come to the Lord's side. Those who were thus "anxious" for their souls were invited to walk forward to the "anxious seat" where counsel and prayer would be given them.The following quote from Finney's Lectures on Revival explains his view well."Preach to him, and at the moment he thinks he is willing to do anything . . . bring him to the test; call on him to do one thing, to make one step that shall identify him with the people of God. . . . If you say to him, "there is the anxious seat, come out and avow your determination to be on the Lord's side," and if he is not willing to do a small thing as that, then he is not willing to do anything for Christ."The practice was designed to force decisions, to get results. So it did, and with slight variations the new method spread with increasing popularity through Finney and, later, Dwight L. Moody, and finally into virtually all of nineteenth and twentieth century evangelicalism. Peter Cartwright, Sam Jones, R. A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, Bob Jones, Gipsy Smith, Mordacai Ham, John R. Rice, Billy Graham all employed the method with impressive success. The invitation system had come to stay.In all fairness, it is important to observe that the practice was not born in the apostolic church. It is not found in the ministry of Jesus, His apostles or even the church of the post-apostolic period. We do see Jesus and the apostles "inviting" men and women to Christ and to be saved, but never by means of this particular method. "Invitations" they give, to be sure! But not altar calls. The altar call is "old fashioned" in only a very relative sense. It is old fashioned to us at this end of the twentieth century, but it first arose more than eighteen centuries after Christ.
"...to make all men see"(Ephesians 3:9)

We don't change God's message -- His message changes us.

Offline John Oscar

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Re: "The Altar Call"
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 09:42:08 AM »
I was trained in the use of Altar Calls (Assembly of God), and as I gain more experience in the ministry, I used them less and less.   As it was stated, there wasn't much (if any) biblical examples of this practice.
John O


Offline me again

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Re: "The Altar Call"
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 03:52:34 PM »
I was trained in the use of Altar Calls (Assembly of God), and as I gain more experience in the ministry, I used them less and less.   As it was stated, there wasn't much (if any) biblical examples of this practice.

Very interesting.

I've always wondered how to invite people to accept the Lord, if you are preaching via a pulpit, TV or radio.

The closest thing to an alter call is possibly the day of Pentecost when thousands of people were filled with the Holy Spirit. They fearfully went to the upper room (the alter call?) and received the Holy Spirit in power.

We labor to plant the Word of God, but only the Holy Spirit can bring in His harvest. We are laborers, but He is the Great Harvester. LOL
"So then, stand firm and hold to the traditions :o which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Offline Quasar

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Re: "The Altar Call"
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 12:12:40 AM »
IMO, Billie Graham is a case and point of the effectiveness of the alter call, ever since 1950 in the huge tent he used for his revival being held in Los Angeles.  I would pass it every day on my work in downtown L.A.  Up until he reached such an elderly age of the late 80s to the early 90s that he had to taper off and let his son Franklin sub for him.

I personally believe it to be the very purpose for preaching in the first place.  What did Peter do in Acts 2:14-41, if that wasn't exactly what he did?  He was so effective, they were begging him to know how they could be saved.


Quasar
"I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by me."  Jn.14:6.

 

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